Mid-Quarter Monetary Policy Review 2011-12: December 2011
-Announced on the 16th December 2011 by Dr. D. Subbarao, Governor, Reserve Bank of India
On a y-o-y basis, headline WPI inflation moderated to 9.1 per cent in November from 9.7 per cent in October, driven largely by decline in primary food articles inflation. Fuel group inflation went up marginally. Notably, non-food manufactured products inflation remains elevated, actually increasing to 7.9 per cent in November from 7.6 per cent in October, reflecting rising input costs. The new combined (rural and urban) consumer price index (base: 2010=100) rose further to 114.2 in October from 113.1 in September. Inflation in terms of other consumer price indices was in the range of 9.4 to 9.7 per cent in October 2011. Reassuringly, headline momentum indicators, such as the seasonally adjusted month-on-month and 3-month moving average rolling quarterly inflation rate, show continuing signs of moderation.
Merchandise exports growth decelerated sharply to an average of 13.6 per cent y-o-y in October-November from an average of 40.6 per cent in the first half of 2011-12. However, as imports moderated less than exports, the trade deficit widened, putting pressure on the current account. This, combined with rebalancing of global portfolios by foreign institutional investors and the tendency of exporters to defer repatriating their export earnings, has led to significant pressure on the rupee.
As on December 15, 2011, the rupee had depreciated by about 17 per cent against the US dollar over its level on August 5, 2011, the day on which the US debt downgrade happened. In the face of this, several measures were taken to attract inflows. Limits on investment in government and corporate debt instruments by foreign investors were increased. The ceilings on interest rates payable on non-resident deposits were raised. The all-in-cost ceiling for external commercial borrowings was increased. Further, a series of administrative measures that discourage speculative behaviour were also initiated. The Reserve Bank is closely monitoring the developments in the external sector and it will respond to the evolving situation as appropriate.
The central government’s key deficit indicators worsened during 2011-12 (April-October), primarily on account of a decline in revenue receipts and increase in expenditure, particularly subsidies. The fiscal deficit at 74.4 per cent of the budgeted estimate in the first seven months of 2011-12 was significantly higher than 42.6 per cent in the corresponding period last year (about 61.2 per cent if adjusted for more than budgeted spectrum proceeds received last year). The likely slippage in this year’s fiscal deficit has inflationary implications.
Money, Credit and Liquidity Conditions
The y-o-y money supply (M3) growth moderated from 17.2 per cent at the beginning of the financial year to 16.3 per cent on December 2, 2011, although still higher than the projected trajectory of 15.5 per cent for the year. Y-o-y non-food credit growth at 17.5 per cent on December 02, 2011, however, was below the indicative projection of 18 per cent.
Consistent with the stance of monetary policy, liquidity conditions have remained in deficit during this fiscal year. However, the deficit increased significantly beginning the second week of November 2011. The average borrowings under the daily LAF increased to around ` 89,000 crore during November-December (up to December 15, 2011) from around `49,000 crore during April-October 2011. The Reserve Bank conducted open market operations (OMOs) on three occasions in November-December 2011 for an amount aggregating about ` 24,000 crore to ease liquidity conditions.
There are currently no significant signs of stress in the money market. The overnight call money rate is stable around the policy repo rate and liquidity facilities such as marginal standing facility (MSF) remain unutilised. However, in view of the fact that borrowings from the LAF are persistently above the Reserve Bank's comfort zone, further OMOs will be conducted as and when seen to be appropriate.
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